The Faculty of Classics of the University of Cambridge (Dr Alessandro Launaro, Prof Martin J. Millett), in collaboration with the British School at Rome (Prof Christopher Smith) and the Soprintendenza Archeologica del Lazio (Dr Giovanna R. Bellini), and with the support of the British Academy, the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and the Comune di Pignataro Interamna (FR, Italy), has carried out non-destructive archaeological research at the site of the Roman town of Interamna Lirenas and in the surrounding territory (Contrada Termine and Contrada Felci). This fieldwork season (4-21 July, 18-31 October 2011) has involved 3 main activities:
- geophysical prospection (5-18 July);
- systematic field survey (18-25 October);
- analysis and study of archaeological materials (19-29 October).
All results from the different fieldwork activities converge in confirming the substantial success of the chosen methodologies in relation to the environmental and archaeological nature of the study area. Magnetometry has unquestionably shown its effectiveness by collecting a huge amount of data in a relatively short amount of time. Accordingly, the nature of the buried archaeology combined with the specific topographic and geological features of the area have doubtlessly indicated this technique as the most suitable. The testing of GPR techniques has proved equally successful by adding a further dimension and crucial details to our understanding of the urban layout of Interamna Lirenas. On the other hand, systematic field-survey hugely benefitted from its intensive character, which – among other things – is the reason behind the recovery of new sites in areas already investigated by the Canadian team. The fact that these sites are of rather limited size supports this opinion (a similar argument can be made with reference to offsites).
A lot of time has been devoted to the analysis and study of archaeological materials. Results have surpassed our most optimistic expectations in terms of both quantity and quality of finds. During field-survey we have collected 876 diagnostic finds (an average density of 8 diagnostic fragments per ha), many of them comparable with published materials. Coarseware especially has produced outstanding results as for its dating potential. This task made it possible to provide accurate chronologies for all sites and for a large share of the off-sites (the rest being nonetheless dated to more general periods).
In addition to proper research activities – and somewhat complementary to them – a lot of emphasis has been put towards making our presence and fieldwork well known to the local population. During the whole period of the geophysical survey the archaeological area has been kept constantly open to anyone curious about it and willing to spend some time getting to know it. Following an official press release from the University of Cambridge, the discovery of the theatre received wide coverage locally (Ciociaria Oggi – 15/09/2012; Il Messaggero; – 15/10/2012), nationally (Focus.it) and abroad (The Independent; Minerva; Der Spiegel Online).
Results have been presented at the 10th Annual Conference of the Soprintendenza Archeologica per i Beni Archeologici del Lazio (4-6 June 2013) and will be published in the Lazio e Sabina proceedings (2014). A short field report (in English) will also appear in the Papers of the British School at Rome (2013).